Listen Up! A Convert
Okay. I confess. I was mildly pissed off on Saturday when the CBC pre-empted their coverage of the Rio Olympics to carry the Farewell Concert of the Tragically Hip. Sure, I had heard of them but it isn’t my kind of music and I was in my comfort zone watching the Olympics as I have been for the past two weeks, cheering on great Canadian athletes. So, I switched to an American channel to watch. That didn’t last long.
Something was nagging at the back of my mind. I began to feel I was missing something I couldn’t put my finger on. Somehow, I thought I didn’t want to admit to friends or family that I had switched to an American TV channel while something, obviously important, was happening, live, in Canada. And with that, I switched back to the CBC thinking I would take a quick look and go back to the Olympics. That didn’t happen.
Something magical was going on. Probably more so for me than the hundreds of thousands of Hip fans who knew them, followed them and loved their music. I don’t know what it was; maybe the raw energy, perhaps the electricity in the hall. It still isn’t my kind of music but suddenly I found I was toe tapping and I was hooked.
Then I saw the crowds all across Canada, in bars, in halls, in Town Squares and in outdoor parks, all glued to the Hip concert, all mesmerized by what they were watching. It was clear that this Farewell concert of The Tragically Hip was a Canadian phenomenon. I still don’t quite understand, but there it is.
What particularly impressed me was the raw courage of Gord Downie. There he stood, knowing he was dying, fighting off his illness and giving the show of a lifetime. There was no self-pity. There was no self-grandiosity. He was not there for the photo op, or an eulogy. He was simply there for his fans; not so they could say thank you to him but rather so he could pay tribute to them. It was clearly taxing for him. It must also have been very emotional for him. He could have left them crying but instead he left them cheering and full of hope. How Canadian! What a man and what a lesson to us all.
Prior to writing this piece, I watched a video on Huntsville Doppler produced by our amazing team, of the crowd at River Mill Park, watching the Tragically Hip. I saw the excitement of the people being interviewed, people I know. It drove home to me the sense of community and coming together we have in this country, not just in Huntsville, but all across Canada. Peter Mansbridge, he of CBC fame, tweeted: “I am so proud that very few outside our borders quite understand these guys like we do. They’re ours. They’re Canada.”
That’s what I saw too; boundless energy, strength and determination in the face of adversity, a new generation of optimism and hope all over the country. That’s my Canada. Tragically Hip indeed. I’m converted. Where can I get the tee shirt?
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